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Nearly 20 years ago I called my eldest daughter Mia and told her that her dad was about to do something radical, that I was about to marry a white woman. She was happy for me.
There were few interracial marriages then. When we married In Leon County those 20 years ago, to some, we were pioneers of a sort.
We were radical cool — the interracial couple, not just living together, but married and raising a family. With the Tallahassee community being more liberal than some others, we never thought of any backlash. And we never concerned ourselves with race.
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My wife and I are children of the s. But by living in completely different worlds, we saw those years through starkly different lenses. She was reared in the white suburbs of Chicago, while my early years were mostly in Jim Crow era Florida, with annual sabbaticals to Elizabeth, New Jersey.
We both saw the s riots on TV as Watts and Detroit burned. We lived through Vietnam, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We saw America struggle to heal itself after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. There have also been more depictions of multiracial families and couples in film and on television. Despite having to withstand occasional displays of bigotry or small slights, my wife and I are ordinary people in an ordinary marriage. It is a hope that in some way, our togetherness over the years has made the world a softer, more tolerant place.
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When my wife is upset with me, which may be today, it is never about race. Our marriage is like any other. It requires constant work, is dependent upon patience, commitment, love, understanding and most importantly forgiveness for our imperfections.
What I can say is this: The experience of walking through life with the woman I married and love, who just so happens to have a different pigmentation than I do, has provided a view of our humanity not shared by many. As a black man, I get to see the world through the eyes of my wife, a white woman. I get to understand her and those of similar backgrounds whose families journeyed to America from Ireland, and their struggles to get their footing in the New World.
I know their family tragedies, their loss, heartbreak, grief and celebration. I know the tapestry of her life — her white life in America.
I got to see my wife fiercely protect our children from the rare teacher who practiced their own version of bigotry and racism. Through my eyes, she knows that Dr. Benjamin E. Through my eyes she saw the way society sometimes reacted to my skin color, that black men are indeed treated differently than their white counterparts. We want them to be healthy, we want personal freedom to pursue our dreams, access to health care, and a job that pays a living wage. We all want a place to live, respect, food to eat — just the basics.
We see it for what it is — fear. We know that what passes as racial indifference or bigotry is not based on anything rational, but instead fear of what is different. He can be reached at michael michaeldobson. Home Opinion Zing!
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